Dec 11, 2014

La Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua is the capital of Guatemala.

With a fairly small population compared to the entire country, I was actually surprised that Antigua is the capital and not Guatemala City.

Guatemala City is hustle, bustle, and everything you would expect in a metropolitan city.

Antigua is not. It is small big city. The people are warm and friendly. The roads are in a grid. The streets are cobblestones and the restaurants are plentiful.

Being set up on a grid makes it easy to navigate even for the most directionally challenged. But I will warn you, the streets and avenues are rarely numbered. So if you are on a street and see the number start counting up or down. That's really the only way to know where you are.

If you get lost, expect to stay vaguely lost. Guatemalans are overly friendly and don't want to admit they don't know where something is. So if you get directions, take them with a grain of salt. After about 3 days I had a fairly accurate grasp on the city.

Antigua is definitely a walking persons city. With the roads being cobblestones you need a mouth guard and a helmet when riding in a vehicle. The sidewalks aren't much better, each varying with width and height. A person in a wheelchair or walker may find Antigua tough to navigate.

But the city is magical. Absolutely magical.

It's a little like being transported back in time. Most of the cars are fairly old. There are no stoplights and people aren't allowed to honk. It's quite awesome.

But then you get passed by one of these.
Those are chicken buses. Or as people in the states would say, school buses. These are how the majority of people in Antigua (and Guatemala) get from place to place. They are awesome. So much fun. And cheap too. Each one is decked out and as different as the next. Each driver has their own theme and a person who stands at the doors shouting where they are headed.

Antigua is full of beautiful architecture. Some of it lays in ruins from prior earthquakes and it is like being transported back in time in the middle of the city.

Don't worry if you don't speak spanish. the city is fairly english friendly. Not everywhere, but most places you can get by. Or you can do like i did and take spanish classes. Antigua is full of Spanish schools. Your school courtyard may even look like mine.
In short, Antigua has many nooks and crannies to explore. If you get the chance, absolutely make a trip to Guatemala. As of today it is the greatest place I have been...well, place without surf...